Anti-crime website Facewatch, which was founded by wine bar owner Simon Gordon in response to the theft of his customers' bags, has smashed a funding target to bankroll its expansion.
Facewatch, which protects pubs, bars, restaurants and hotels across the UK from petty crime has just exceeded its £500,000 fundraising target and raised over £540,000 on Crowdcube.
The new capital is part of the £1.5m the firm is looking to raise overall to develop its systems further and expand the business.
Facewatch allows companies to upload photographs of thieves and offenders and share them with other businesses, and to send evidence like CCTV footage and stills and report crimes directly to the police online.
Around 10,000 premises across the UK now use Facewatch, including pubs, bars and hotels like the Savoy, Wetherspoons, and in particular a significant number of bars in the Westminster area of London.
Simon Gordon, owner of Gordon's wine bar in London, created the system for pubs, restaurants and retail businesses to report petty crime on their premises after becoming fed up with the theft of his customer's bags.
He said: "It's great to have so many people validating it and understanding it and investing. We're getting a lot of companies now who are asking to link into Facewatch. It's all around prevention. We're trying to prevent crime by understanding how the crime happens, and make it harder for people to commit crime."
He added that there is going to be an "explosion" in facial recognition software over the next two years and that Facewatch will be linking into more facial recognition software, meaning that CCTV cameras will be able to alert businesses if a known offender walks onto the premises.
"That's in existence now, it all works, it's just that we're linking to more facial recognition systems and we're developing the app further so that it becomes simpler and slicker," he said.
There are also hopes to enable the police to view business' CCTV feeds online so that if there is an emergency situation, the police can be sent a link to view the live footage through Facewatch to verify the incident. The system is already being piloted.
Gordon added: "This is going to be absolutely huge. Everyone's very excited about it."